Blowy sail ending with 1st Outboard Test 14th May 2017

I’ve been thinking about and looking around at outboard options for a little while now as I want to ensure we have some extra margin of safety for getting home/in and out of harbours if either conditions change or I have any back/neck/hand issues that make sailing a problem.

Outboard Options

We have an electric trolling motor that moves Nemesis but won’t give us any real oomph against tide and wind – it is more suitable for Puff, the Kaymaran although I still need to shorten the shaft to make it lighter and easier to move around.

So I started looking around at options – first things first the power needed? My eighbour Tony has a 2.5hp on his tender and most small dinghies seem to go for that sort of size, but Nemsis is a little bigger and heavier with more windage so perhaps anything upto 5hp?

Looking around at comments on forums etc, people always bitch about the unreliability of outboards – they are seldom used and often fail when actually needed due to crappy modern fuel gumming up the carbs etc.

So I started looking at Lehr gas powered engines – no gumming up possible, can use a propane bottle tht we could use then for cooking if camping etc. So I thought I’d take a look and contacted several local retailers by telephone and email in Lymington and on the Isle of Wight to see if they had stock. No-one replied. I emailed and called again. No response.

I would simply like to engage in that age old system of bartering some ready cash for a product but to no avail.

I hope the engines are more reliable than their sales outlets.

They must be seeling so many that one extra little sale is not worth the bother.

So, giving up on that I started investigating options – there is some really old stuff around on ebay etc which seems to get good reviews but getting spares etc? Hmm. Kept a look out for a while and nothing really grabbing my attention and then last weekend driving down through Sway to Lymington I saw an outboard advertised for £225. I couldn’t quite see what it was but called back past later and it was an Evinrude 4hp long shaft. Wasn’t quite sure how it would fit on, but bought it on the proviso I could bring it back if not suitable sizewise.

Popped down to LTSC and tried it – good stuff, should be ideal.

I thought I would locate it quite far out to port as I thought it was quick to bodge on and would mean it is easy to reach when on the tramp, keeping all the weight on that side so if in heavy conditions, the float will be givng all the stability and safety we would need.

I shaped a bit of left over oak to give the clamps something thicker to grip, got out the trusty rivet gun and presto. Another quality aftermarket product that noone would suspect was made from left over crap in the shed.

The engine seemed to fire up nice and easily so gave it a good blat in the wheelie bin to make sure it was running ok and all looked good.

1st Outboard Bracket
1st Outboard Bracket

1st Trip with Outboard

So we decided to try and pop out for a quick spin today, a bit breezy at home so it was likely to to be a bit blowy but we headed down to take a look. It was certainly on the upper end of good…. but I was desperate to get out having had another utterly shitty week at work so we loaded up the motor which fits just nicely in front of the spaceframe on the port side away from the spinnaker chute. I attached a halyard around the spaceframe to the motor in case of tipping out at see and we were almost ready. This keeps weight on the trampoline side of the boat for extra safety.

Putting the motor on the boat obviously changes the weight distibution massively on the trolley as well and it becomes becomes very tippy backwards and rests on the skeg.

We plopped into the water, hopped aboard and went out down the river all looking quite good. It was force 4-5 in the river but perfectly flat and fine and there was nothing around pretty much so it looked quite straight forward. Tacking was a bit tricky as went out of the breakwater as the wind was getting quite strong but 2 tacks and we were out. The wind out in the solent was obviously pretty powerful and we saw a stream of boats coming back in that would of course, to anyone with a brain been a sign, an omen even.

So bollocks to that, we powered up a bit and started crashing through the chop. Oh dear. It was really starting to whip up and it was obvious Lesley wasn’t comfortable. We currently still have no way of reefing so we have quite a lot of sail aloft and looking around, there were no other sailboats out, only motor boats…… Hmm.

We stayed out of the main channel and turned round into wind, sails flogging away and tried to lower the mainsail. Lesley sat out on the tramp to keep us flat and I fumbled around releasing the boom and downhaul and couldn’t free the halyard for a while. It was pretty hairy stuff frankly but finaly I managed to lower the main sail and boom into the cockpit.

I went forward and grabbed the new motor, clipped the safety line at the back and dropped it onto the new bracket and after a few pulls got it going and we started back in.

Lesley managed to get the jib under control after quite a batlle and we joined the line of much bigger boats heading back in. Unfortunately, once again no GoPro – it would have been fun to see the conditions.

Anyway, we moved closer to a large motor cruiser who watched us with some mirth – but none of the usual comments about “You’re missing a bit!!” – and sitting right back to keep the nose up as it came close to burying a few times, we surfed back in on their bow wave catching them up fully in seconds and using that keep is in some nice predicatable water.

We came round the channel and with just the jib and the motor ticking over skidded past them and headed back to the ramp.

From the tracker below, it is quite funny to see how slow we were actually going with such a breeze – we were literally crashing through the steep chop, hugely heeled over and burying the float. Also not having the trapeze harness we really were in all sorts of bother.

Well, we got back safely, the engine thoroughly tested but that is an experience not to be repeated.

Looking at the weather when we got back in it was gusting 35-40 knots, we simply should not have been out there.

From this little trip though, I could see though the engine mounting is a bit high with quite a bit of cavitation from the prop and also with it being so far out to port, it made the steering less effective than it could have been. I will update it, move it lower and closer to the rudder but this will be a bit more effort to make as we will need to make some sort of projecting bracket from the rear crossbeam but not sure how I will really secure it.

As you can see, pretty well just straight out and back in.

Total distance: 4945 m

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